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Elias Dakwar, Rafael F. Cardona, Donald A. Smith and Juan S. Uribe

Object

The object of this study was to evaluate an alternative surgical approach to degenerative thoracolumbar deformity in adults. The authors present their early experience with the minimally invasive, lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach for placing interbody grafts and providing anterior column support for adult degenerative deformity.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed a prospectively acquired database of all patients with adult thoracolumbar degenerative deformity treated with the minimally invasive, lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach at our institution. All patient data were recorded including demographics, preoperative evaluation, procedure used, postoperative follow-up, operative time, blood loss, length of hospital stay, and complications. The Oswestry Disability Index and visual analog scale (for pain) were also administered pre- and postoperatively as early outcome measures. All patients were scheduled for follow-up postoperatively at weeks 2, 6, 12, and 24, and at 1 year.

Results

The authors identified 25 patients with adult degenerative deformity who were treated using the minimally invasive, lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach. All patients underwent discectomy and lateral interbody graft placement for anterior column support and interbody fusion. The mean total blood loss was 53 ml per level. The average length of stay in the hospital was 6.2 days. Mean follow-up was 11 months (range 3–20 months). A mean improvement of 5.7 points on visual analog scale scores and 23.7% on the Oswestry Disability Index was observed. Perioperative complications include 1 patient with rhabdomyolysis requiring temporary hemodialysis, 1 patient with subsidence, and 1 patient with hardware failure. Three patients (12%) experienced transient postoperative anterior thigh numbness, ipsilateral to the side of approach. In this series, 20 patients (80%) were identified who had more than 6 months of follow-up and radiographic evidence of fusion. The minimally invasive, lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach, without the use of osteotomies, did not correct the sagittal balance in approximately one-third of the patients.

Conclusions

Degenerative scoliosis of the adult spine is secondary to asymmetrical degeneration of the discs. Surgical decompression and correction of the deformity can be performed from an anterior, posterior, or combined approach. These procedures are often associated with long operative times and a high incidence of complications. The authors' experience with the minimally invasive, lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach for placement of a large interbody graft for anterior column support, restoration of disc height, arthrodesis, and realignment is a feasible alternative to these procedures.

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Elias Dakwar, Jaypal Reddy, Fernando L. Vale and Juan S. Uribe

✓ Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic, progressive inflammatory rheumatic disease involving primarily the sacroiliac joints and the axial skeleton. The main clinical features are back pain and progressive stiffness of the spine. Oligoarthritis of the hips and shoulders, enthesopathy, and anterior uveitis are common, and involvement of the heart and lungs is rare. The current understanding of the pathogenesis of this disorder is limited. Despite the strong association between human leukocyte antigen B27 (HLA-B27) and susceptibility to AS reported over the past 30 years, the exact pathogenic role of HLA-B27 in AS and other spondyloarthropathies has yet to be determined. The authors present a review of the literature pertaining to the pathogenesis of AS over the past several decades.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a polygenic disorder, with HLA-B27 playing a critical causative role in its pathogenesis. Animal studies of the immunobiology of HLA-B27 have provided significant insight into the pathogenic role of HLA-B27. The search for the antigenic peptide to support the “arthritogenic peptide” hypothesis has been disappointing. Over the past decade there has been increasing interest in the critical role of the misfolding and unfolded protein response of the heavy chain HLA-B27 in the modulation of the inflammatory response. Although there have been significant new findings in the understanding of the pathogenesis of AS, the exact mechanisms have yet to be identified. There is considerable optimism that additional susceptibility genes, predisposing factors, and regulators of the inflammatory process will be identified that will provide avenues for future treatment.

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Jaypal Reddy Sangala, Elias Dakwar, Juan Uribe and Fernando Vale

Object

The aim of this study was to review the current evidence-based nonsurgical management strategies of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) for spine surgeons. Whereas surgical management is indicated in a highly selected group, nonsurgical management is itself a useful measure for nearly all patients with AS.

Methods

The authors conducted a literature review of PubMed using relevant search words. All the articles published in English in the last 15 years were reviewed and the level of evidence provided by them was noted.

Results

Nonpharmacological treatments in the form of physical therapy and patient education have Level Ib evidence in maintaining function in AS. There is Level Ib evidence supporting the use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and coxibs for treatment in patients with symptoms. There is not enough evidence to support the use of conventional disease-modifying antirheumatoid arthritis drugs. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α inhibitors (infliximab, etanercept, and adalimumab) are associated with Level Ib evidence in improving spinal pain, function, inflammatory biomarkers, and spinal inflammation detected by magnetic resonance imaging in patients in whom symptom duration has exceeded 3 months.

Conclusions

Physical therapy and patient education are useful for all patients diagnosed with AS. If symptomatic, patients are started with either a course of nonselective NSAIDs or a selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor. The role of NSAIDs as a disease-modifying therapy in the treatment of AS is increasingly being understood. The central role of TNF in the pathogenesis of AS is now known, and the advent of biological treatment in the form of anti–TNFα factors has revolutionized the medical management of AS and is used in patients with axial disease whose symptoms persist despite an adequate dose of NSAIDs.

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Elias Dakwar, Tien V. Le, Ali A. Baaj, Anh X. Le, William D. Smith, Behrooz A. Akbarnia and Juan S. Uribe

Object

The minimally invasive lateral transpsoas approach for interbody fusion has been increasingly employed to treat various spinal pathological entities. Gaining access to the retroperitoneal space and traversing the abdominal wall poses a risk of injury to the major nervous structures. Nerve injury of the abdominal wall can potentially lead to paresis of the abdominal musculature and bulging of the abdominal wall. Abdominal wall nerve injury resulting from the minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach has not been previously reported. The authors describe a case series of patients presenting with paresis and bulging of the abdominal wall after undergoing a minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal approach.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed all patients who underwent a minimally invasive lateral transpsoas approach for interbody fusion and in whom development of abdominal paresis developed; the patients were treated at 4 institutions between 2006 and 2010. All data were recorded including demographics, diagnosis, operative procedure, positioning, hospital course, follow-up, and complications. The onset, as well as resolution of the abdominal paresis, was reviewed.

Results

The authors identified 10 consecutive patients in whom abdominal paresis developed after minimally invasive lateral transpsoas spine surgery out of a total of 568 patients. Twenty-nine interbody levels were fused (range 1–4 levels/patient). There were 4 men and 6 women whose mean age was 54.1 years (range 37–66 years). All patients presented with abdominal paresis 2–6 weeks postoperatively. In 8 of the 10 patients, abdominal wall paresis had resolved by the 6-month follow-up visit. Two patients only had 1 and 4 months of follow-up. No long-term sequelae were identified.

Conclusions

Abdominal wall paresis is a rare but known potential complication of abdominal surgery. The authors report the first case series associated with the minimally invasive lateral transpsoas approach.